E3 2012 – Nintendo Conference Recap and Review

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Going into E3, it was impossible to deny the fact that Nintendo had all the momentum and it was their game to lose.  With the announcement of a new console last year, and its release scheduled for this holiday season – Nintendo had a lot of hype going for them. Before E3 even started, they hosted a privately recorded conference, that was then streamed online that revealed specific details about the Wii U. In the end though, was this a good or bad thing? Did the excitement make their show seem better than it was, or did it fail to live up to expectations? Read on to find out and make sure you click the game’s titles in order to view more information.

Pikmin 3

Getting off to a fast start, Miyamoto began the conference with CG Pikmin running about his dressing room. He came on stage and immediately set the tone for the entire conference – tons of games. This new Pikmin seems to feature that same gameplay you know and love, with some added in multiplayer as well. The touchpad on the Wii U controller will be used extensively, and it looks like a great launch title for fans of the series.


New Super Mario Bros. U

Every Nintendo console in the history of gaming has launched with either a Mario or Zelda title; the Wii U will be no different. This game sports some great 2D visuals and great multiplayer. It will be interesting to see how this competes with the stunningly beautiful Rayman Legends, which seems to truly perfect the 2D platformer, especially if Origins is to be taken as any type of cue. Look out for this on launch day, it promises to be one of the better games.


Zombi U

This game was already shown during Ubisoft’s conference, but during that conference it was just a CG trailer without gameplay. This time, it shows not only gameplay footage, but how the Wii U remote will be used while playing. It looks to extensively use the controller in lots of different ways to significantly enhance gameplay – creating a truly unique experience native to the Wii U. Could this be their olive branch to the hardcore crowd?


Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition

This game is sort of odd to me. It came out a year ago, and the visuals don’t look any better. They add some cool scanning functionality to the tablet controller, and they add some new ability to turn into a super-powered Batman during fights. Overall, I’m not sure what the target audience is for this game, time will tell how it sells.


Wii Fit U

Remember that old dusty balance board you have underneath that pile of Doritos bags and soda cans? Well, it’s coming back. This time it offers the ability to perform your workouts on the tablet itself – freeing up the TV for your the other lazier members of your household.



Still a working title, this game is a karaoke for your Wii U, that’s all we can tell so far. Having the lyrics on the tablet is pretty cool, but then what is the TV for besides the image of a dancer? Hopefully this game fleshes out a bit more soon.


Just Dance 4

Now that you’re done singing, while not do a little dancing? Not a lot of details were really shown about the game other than it exists and attractive models can pretend to play it well. I noticed the models were holding Wii controllers, so I’m not sure this really needs to come out on the Wii U if the Wii controller is still the input device. Check out the link for a fun video.


Lego City: Undercover

One of the more interesting games of the conference, this looks like a kid-friendly Lego GTA of some sort. You play as a cop, and get to go around a Lego-style town solving crimes, building things, taking things apart, etc. Personally, I am interested in this. I would have much rather preferred some sort of Sim City/Minecraft hybrid style game set in a Lego universe, that would work great with the tablet. Maybe someday…


Scribblenauts Unlimited

Outside of the other obvious games, this one really piques my interest. The DS Scribblenauts games were great, and this one really looks fantastic. With basically endless possibilities for what you can create, sharp HD graphics, and now multiplayer, this game looks like a great addition to a prospective Wii U owners library. This will also be headed to the 3DS.



What exactly this is and what it entails aren’t exactly clear at this point. It looks like it probably be the Wii U version of a game like Wii Sports, Sports Champion, or Kinect Adventures – it is just a tech demo. Hopefully this comes preinstalled on the hardware. As of now we know that it is a Nintendo branded themepark, with lots of attractions for the various popular franchises in Nintendo’s extensive library.


The Other Games

Besides these highlights of the conference, there were well over a dozen other games shown for the Wii U and 3DS – mostly in the form of montages. Montages aren’t a bad thing, especially when it comes to a new console. It allows you to showcase a large number of games in a short period of time. Among them for the Wii U were Alien: Colonial Marines, Darksiders II, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Mass Effect 3, Assassin’s Creed III, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. The 3DS titles included New Super Mario Bros. 2, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, and Paper Mario: Sticker Star.

As you can see, Nintendo’s press conference did not lack substance – they definitely brought games to show. But the question isn’t whether or not there were games, the question is: what were they, and should you care? Frankly, there was not a whole lot that I felt really stood out and made me want a Wii U – and that is a bad sign only a few months away from launch.

Another failure was the fact that they had an unheard of exclusive game, that was launching a new franchise, but they chose not to show it off during the press conference. Instead, they waited until afterwards to tease it, announce it, and finally even show some gameplay. That game is called Project P-100. The game doesn’t look bad at all, and would have been a great ending to the show, or a replacement for Batman, since everyone has seen or played that game already.

The biggest issue with the conference wasn’t with the quality of the games shown – all of these games are games that I expected to see, and some of which am happy to see. The problem with the conference lies with what was not shown. There was no 3D Mario game, there was no Zelda (not even for the 3DS,) there was no Super Smash Bros., there was no Metroid, there was no Kirby, there was no Mario Kart. Those are the system selling franchises that Nintendo owns, why weren’t they on display at the press conference prior to a new system’s launch? No answer to this question will be able to explain that logic.

Before you get ahead of yourself, I’m not saying the Wii U needs all of those games at launch…that makes no sense. I’m saying it needs one of those games…just one. Last year they showed a tech demo for Zelda – granted, it was “only a tech demo,” but come on. Seriously? You cannot show that and then a year later pretend it never happened. Furthermore, last year they literally confirmed that a Super Smash Bros. was in development for the Wii U and 3DS. Why did we not see those games? Once again, no answer will explain that logic.



I left off the section for “Everything Else” because Nintendo took care of all of that before the press conferences started, and we’ve got plenty more information on that stuff here and here as well. So that leaves us with my general impressions of the conference. Overall, I am disappointed. Sure, they showed off over 20 Wii U games, but a good portion of them were just ports from current consoles. I agree that Nintendo finally being included in the multi-platform party is great, but getting up-to-speed is not the same as moving forward.

As stated above, my hopes were not outrageous and my expectations were truly not that high. All I wanted was just a single game from that list I gave above, two of which were expected because of last year’s conference. Then again, is it really a surprise at this point? Nintendo has lost touch with the games that made them great to begin with, and don’t really show any signs of finding them again.

With that being said though, who is the target audience with the Wii U? Without any of those titles I listed, I know many hardcore gamers (myself included) are not exactly planning on buying a Wii U at launch. What about the casual crowd? Sure, a lot of the games appeal to them, but they already have Wiis. Do you really think that soccer mom playing NintendoLand with her family in the trailer would buy the console? To that audience, the Wii already satisfies their needs.

The conference was not terrible and it was not a failure – Nintendo most definitely has a lot of games coming to the Wii U and the 3DS, and fans have plenty of reason to be excited. You have to ask yourself one question though: is that really enough?

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David Jagneaux Senior Editor
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